All text copyright  Eitan Grunwald.  All photographs copyright  Eitan or Ron Grunwald  except photographs by others are copyright per photo credits.  All rights reserved.  Terms
MEXICO/CALIFORNIA
May 2016
 3 of 5
MEXICO/CALIFORNIA
May 2016
 3 of 5
We ride the dirt roads at twilight, stopping now and then to admire the scenery. Friends of Kevin and Don have joined us at the ranch, so right now we’ve got four vehicles searching for snakes. Periodically we pass each other and do a status check, but each time it’s the same:  nothing.  It’s beginning to feel a lot like Southern California again. We continue late into the night, and in the end just about everyone is skunked.  But finally Ron and I get a bit of luck. After stopping for way too many stick snakes, one of them finally turns out to be the real thing.  Stretched out in the middle of the road, this adorable juvenile recoils at my approach, as do so many of my new acquaintances.  And indeed, this is a new species for us, so we’re quite pleased to score another lifer.   Come morning we laze around like lizards, lounging around the rocks behind the dining hall, watching Rock Lizards lounging around on the rocks.  It’s almost meta.      Actually, it’s pretty exciting for me.  Ever since I got a long-range glimpse of a Rock Lizard high above in a California canyon in 2009, the last time I was herping with Kevin, I’ve been eager to see one up close.  Kevin promised I’d have my chance on this trip, and good as his word, he delivers my first real observation of a Petrosaur, and a lifer for this species.   Besides basking, they’re also actively foraging on flies.  Makes me wonder if this concentration of lizards has anything to do with being so close to the dining area.  On other rock piles we saw single individuals, but this was the only spot where they seemed to congregate. Meanwhile, as we’re sitting around, a Desert Iguana boldly patrols the sands near our feet in search of something to eat on the ground. Ron and I decide to herp on foot, so we take off to hike a wash.  It’s afternoon and getting hot, and we don’t expect to see any snakes.  Instead, it turns into a lizardy day, with more Petrasaurs, Desert Igs, and Zebra-tails.   We continue on to a canyon, perfectly constructed with a boulevard of soft sand, lined by luxury high-rises of natural stone, complete with penthouse views.  It’s such a beautiful walk we almost don’t mind the absence of herps.   Ron’s explanation is that this exclusive neighborhood is too expensive, beyond the price range of ordinary reptiles.  I nod in agreement, and begin to say “Only high-class herps can afford to live here . . .” As the words are coming out of my mouth, a circular shape in the shadows catches my attention, so I continue, “. . . like that one.”  “You’re kidding,” says Ron.  So I point, and there coiled among the rocks is a spectacular Speck.   Is this the most beautiful species of Rattlesnake?  Some people think so, and  it’s hard to argue, especially considering the perfection of their color variations.  Morphs of pyrrhus seem to match the rocks of their localities better than any snake I know.  Previously I’ve found ones that were blue/gray, or shades of red ranging from pinkish to brick, each one superbly suited to their surroundings.  But this is my first gray-and-white, a stunning specimen carved from granite.       
Baja California Rattlesnake Crotalus enyo
Central Baja California Banded Rock Lizard Petrosaurus repens
Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake Crotalus mitchellii pyrrhus